Leonardo da Vinci, “Salvator Mundi,” circa 1500, oil on walnut panel, 25 13/16 x 17 15/16 inches

Perhaps you’ve heard, perhaps not, but Christie’s Bellwether Postwar and Contemporary Evening sale in New York this November will be led by Renaissance master Leonardo da Vinci. What’s the scoop?

Leonardo da Vinci’s “Salvator Mundi,” circa 1500, is believed to be the last painting by the Renaissance genius still in private hands. That could all change on Wednesday, November 15 as Christie’s New York will be auctioning the work during its Postwar and Contemporary Evening Sale. Experts also conclude that the work is one of fewer than 20 extant paintings accepted as from the artist’s own hand, making the sale of the painting one of the most memorable in recent years.

Leonardo da Vinci, “Salvator Mundi (with frame),” circa 1500, oil on walnut panel, 25 13/16 x 17 15/16 inches

“[“Salvator Mundi”] is the Holy Grail of Old Master paintings,” said Alan Wintermute, senior specialist in Old Masters at Christie’s. “To see a fully finished late masterpiece by Leonardo — made at the peak of his genius — appear for sale in 2017 is as close as I’ve ever come to an art-world miracle.” The painting displays Christ as Savior of the World. Shown frontally and in three-quarter view, Christ gazes peacefully out upon the viewer as his right hand is shown in a traditional blessing gesture. He wears a jewel-encrusted and embroidered blue cloak, and his left hand holds a glass sphere, signaling his dominion over the world — and the cosmos.

Leonardo da Vinci, “Salvator Mundi (detail),” circa 1500, oil on walnut panel, 25 13/16 x 17 15/16 inches

Currently, Christie’s is touring the exceptional painting before its sale on the 15th; the painting is on view in San Francisco through tomorrow, October 20. It will then move to London with viewing between October 24-26 before landing in New York for an extended exhibition from October 28-November 4.

Leonardo da Vinci, “Salvator Mundi (detail),” circa 1500, oil on walnut panel, 25 13/16 x 17 15/16 inches

A painting this exceptional is difficult, at best, to value as there will surely be aggressive bidding by many parties. However, experts have suggested the painting could reach $100 million. To learn more, visit Christie’s.

This article was featured in Fine Art Today, a weekly e-newsletter from Fine Art Connoisseur magazine. To start receiving Fine Art Today for free, click here.

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Andrew Webster is the former Editor of Fine Art Today and worked as an editorial and creative marketing assistant for Streamline Publishing. Andrew graduated from The University of North Carolina at Asheville with a B.A. in Art History and Ceramics. He then moved on to the University of Oregon, where he completed an M.A. in Art History. Studying under scholar Kathleen Nicholson, he completed a thesis project that investigated the peculiar practice of embedded self-portraiture within Christian imagery during the 15th and early 16th centuries in Italy.


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